Liberty U sophomore impresses ‘American Idol' judges, says he sings 'for the glory of God’

Liberty University sophomore Luke Taylor auditions for American Idol in an episode that aired in March 2022. | YouTube/American Idol

Having advanced to the Hollywood round of “American Idol” after singing “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, 20-year-old Liberty University sophomore Luke Taylor says his success is not about him but “for the glory of God.”

A commercial music major at the Lynchburg, Virginia-based evangelical university founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., Taylor says he received a call to audition for the 20th season of the singing competition. 

“Most people have to audition,” Taylor, who is known on the campus for his deep baritone voice, said in a statement shared by the university. “Having such a big corporation reach out to me without me saying anything is very humbling, honestly. I feel like a lot of people would think it would really boost my ego, but knowing that I’m just some kid from the middle of nowhere, and I’m having this awesome opportunity, shows how good God really is.”

Taylor sings with the Liberty School of Music Chamber Singers and is also the bass vocalist in the school’s a cappella group, Shine. He said he’s excited that his family, friends and fellow students are watching him on national television. But there’s more to his motivation.

“I want people to be excited for this show,” he said. “Whether or not it is to see me, it’s not about me. It is for the glory of God. Getting to see that and getting to show that on that show is really awesome, and I hope people get to see that light.”

Although he grew up in a Christian home in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Taylor says he wasn’t a believer until he came to Liberty in 2020.

At school, he was asked to write an essay, which required him to read the Bible. Through the experience, he decided to surrender his life to Jesus. 

“I’m just a very factual person, and if I cannot see evidence, then I struggle to believe in it,” he said. “It’s hard to believe in God when you can’t actually see Him. So it was a long time until I fully came to faith, but once I did, it was eye-opening.”

During the first round of the singing competition, the judges liked his deep voice and compared it to the voice of actor James Earl Jones.

“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest told Taylor he could do movie-trailer and voice-overs. And the judges agreed.

And as he was singing “Ring of Fire,” judge Lionel Richie told the other two judges, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry, that he sings even “lower than Cash.”

During his audition, Bryan interrupted Taylor and asked him to sing “Frosty the Snowman” in the style of the great Burl Ives. He didn’t know the words, but Bryan pulled up the lyrics on his phone, and Taylor read from the phone as he sang the song to the judges’ delight. 

Bryan was sold on advancing Taylor to the next round, while Ritchie was concerned about his potential to succeed in the contest but voted to advance him to the next round anyway. Perry was more pessimistic and concerned Taylor may not be able to hit higher notes. 

Season 20 of the singing competition has featured several inspiring performances, including by North Carolina native Dontrell Briggs, who sang a rendition of a gospel song that brought Richie to tears.

Briggs’ audition of the Tasha Cobbs song “For Your Glory” was a tribute to his godmother, who died months before the taping.

“She played a very big part in my life — not a day that I could not call her and she wouldn’t be right there for me,” Briggs said in a video that aired before his performance.

Another contestant, Tyler Allen, is a young minister who also left the reality show’s judges in tears.

During the season premiere, Allen dedicated his audition to his 1-year-old nephew, Noah. Both Noah and his mother, Allen’s sister, were killed in a horrific car accident last April.

According to his Instagram bio, Allen is a “preacher, singer, writer, actor and mentor.”

In another episode, former Miss America Betty Maxwell received a unanimous “yes” from the judges after performing “Jesus Take the Wheel.” 

Following the airing of her audition, the Miss America winner took to social media to give glory to God. 

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